Will BookTube Overtake Book Blogging?

I like to think that I am relatively in touch with what’s going on in the book blogging world. However, until very recently, I must confess that I didn’t really know anything at all about BookTube, let alone how big it has become over the past few years. It turns out that there is a whole other world out there of book vloggers known as BookTubers who create video blogs about books on YouTube.

BookTube

Described in the Guardian as “the younger cooler sister of book blogging”, BookTube is making written blogs like mine seem rather quaint and old-fashioned in some ways. At first glance, it appears to be largely dominated by teenagers, particularly girls influenced by other YouTubers like Zoella, talking about YA books which is unsurprising given that it’s a platform which will appeal more to younger readers. However, there are also a hell of a lot of YA book blogs too as well as BookTubers who talk about non-YA books, so I don’t think the differences in terms of genre are as big as they first appear to be. Moreover, I don’t think the Man Booker Prize organisers would have chosen to have official vloggers rather than bloggers posting about this year’s longlisted books if the demographic of viewers was solely restricted to teenage girls.

On the other hand, I haven’t found very much at all about translated fiction on BookTube whereas I follow several bloggers who focus on world literature and champion other niche areas in the book world. One exception is Sanne at Books and Quills who recently interviewed Laura Watkinson about her translations of ‘The Letter for the King’ and ‘The Secrets of the Wild Wood’ by Tonke Dragt from Dutch into English.

The best vloggers are very effective at communicating an interesting and engaging personality whereas I think it’s harder for me to know how I come across in my writing especially to people who don’t know me in real life. For that reason alone, I think some areas of BookTube have more commercial potential than blogs particularly as lots of BookTubers have far larger audiences in the tens of thousands compared to the biggest blogs I’m aware of. However, I also like the relative anonymity of blogging and that I don’t need to make myself look presentable first before sharing my thoughts with the world.

However, many of the most successful BookTubers started out with blogs and have moved on to vlog channels or maintain both. I have no plans to branch out into the BookTube world myself and I will be sticking to blogs as my main source of reviews as it’s the platform I’ve developed with and use myself. Although they cater for different audiences, I think there will be an increasing amount of crossover between the two platforms in the future mostly because they are actually not that different. After all, both blogs and vlogs are community-based platforms run by people who genuinely love books and want to create discussions about them.

Finally, here are a couple of other book vloggers who I think are worth watching:

‘The Fault in Our Stars’ author John Green’s VlogBrothers channel isn’t just about books but I enjoy his reviews which are very succinct and not just about YA. Those with short attention spans or busy lives will appreciate his summary of 18 great books you probably haven’t read in just 3 minutes and 25 seconds:

 

Jen Campbell is a bookseller, author of ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ and one of the official Man Booker Prize vloggers. Here are her thoughts about BookTube:

 

What do you think? Is BookTube the future of book reviewing? Do you run a book blog, vlog or both? Which vloggers do you recommend?

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71 Comments

Filed under Books

71 responses to “Will BookTube Overtake Book Blogging?

  1. I think there is an big audience for both that neither will diminish anytime soon. I tried to book tube and it wasn’t the same joy as having a book blog. I really think it depends on the person and if they have the things they need (like editing software and a good camera), and your personality.

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  2. I watch booktube reviews all the time but I can’t really describe its appeal other than being able to see books in a more three-dimensional form via video. Maybe listening to a booktuber talk is more relaxing than reading a review? But you’re right, book blogging and booktubing is not that different. Both are done by people who are passionate about books and want to create a platform for discussion.

    That said, I am a much better writer than speaker (much less a spontaneous speaker) and as such, will continue to blog exclusively.

    My favorite booktuber is mercysbookishmusings. She reads a variety of books (classics, literary fiction, fantasy, and a lot of more obscure titles). She is very eloquent in telling you the pros and cons of a book and I really appreciate her commitment to staying honest and true to her opinions.

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    • Yes, a lot of people have said that vlogging is more focused on the presenter so I can see why some people prefer to engage via that platform instead if you particularly like the channel. Thanks for the recommendation – it’s good to hear there are some more balanced BookTubers out there too. While it’s better overall that the community is overwhelmingly positive about books they enjoy rather than negative, it doesn’t feel very authentic if everyone raves about absolutely everything constantly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post! it may well be the future but I think traditional blogging will long continue for the camera shy. I’ve done one vlog, and boy it was hard work with setting up the camera, positioning, editing and all that. Kudos to those that do a couple a week 🙂

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  4. kaggsysbookishramblings

    I like to watch the occasion book blog video – but I’ll always prefer the written word

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s nice to know it exists because I had never heard of this before, but I prefer reading to watching so I won’t be giving up my trad blog any time soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems like the majority of bloggers are going to stick to what they know including myself. I’m not sure that many book bloggers actually know about BookTube – I thought I might have been in the minority not having looked before but maybe I’m wrong!

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  6. The way society is going, I think audiovisual is essential and a great way of attracting people to read. I have done a few vlog posts, I want to do more but never find the time to get to it. My older ones are here: https://www.youtube.com/user/wordsandpeace/videos

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    • Thanks, I will definitely check these out! I can see how lots of people would be attracted to finding out books through videos in that way. One of the most interesting things about BookTube is that it has placed more emphasis on physical books because they can be shown as visual objects in a way that eBooks can’t other than waving an eReader in front a camera…

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  7. I remember reading an article this morning about having only a small percentage of the population like reading. It’s more preferable to watch a movie based on a book rather than read it. Similarly, watching a review of one book rather than reading about it may be more appealing and attention-grabbing. Bloggers who use both mediums are very lucky, since it will attract two different audiences. I am too camera shy to even attempt a vlog so I think I’m stuck to blogging the old fashioned way.

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  8. I really like watching book vlogs but struggle finding ones that aren’t just about YA fiction.. Books and Quills and the Vlog brothers, both of which I really enjoy, are the only ones I have come across. I want to see a good vlog based on some of the books reviewed on this site! Also I would like to see people discuss a bit more about the book in their vlogs rather than just saying the synopsis… I have found that book blogs tend to be more about the books rather than the vlogs, which tend to be more about the reviewer.

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  9. It’s not something I personally have an interest in but I look at my niece and vlogging is something she is far more interested in than blogging. I think the different types appeal to different people

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  10. It would take me even longer to finesse a vlog – all that planning what you’re going to say before you even film and edit it – might as well just blog it! I listen to a couple of podcasts though… you can be doing other things while listening more easily.

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    • I don’t know how long on average it takes to edit a video depending on what it is but it doesn’t seem like something you can take easy shortcuts with! Podcasts are another platform I’ve never really investigated before – do you have any recommendations?

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  11. Me too. I’ll stick with traditional text-image blogging.

    I don’t feel comfortable showing my face on-screen.

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  12. The problem that I personally have with Booktube is that it takes too long to consume the piece of media. Like many avid readers I read fast. I can read a book review/blog post in between 10 & 30 seconds. In 1 minute, I can read three posts. If I’m on GR, in 1 minute, I can read as many as 15 opinions about a book I am considering buying.

    With booktube, my speed is constrained by the speed of the vlogger. There’s no skimming, no skipping to the part in which I am really interested. I’m stuck at their speed. Vlogs are much more about the personality behind the vlog than the book itself.

    Having said that, if you are looking for a fabulous booktuber who doesn’t vlog about YA, RonLit is amazing. She mostly discusses classics. You can find her channel here:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/bookjunkielit/videos

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    • Thanks for the recommendation! Yes, I know what you mean, it doesn’t take me ten minutes to read a blog post so BookTubing can be slower in that sense. On the other hand, I didn’t find many videos which were just about one book – lots of them focus on “book hauls” where they talk about collections of books instead.

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      • The “haul” video is something else that I really don’t get. It’s right up there with the “unboxing” videos and the “let’s play” videos that gamers love. I think I’m just too old. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m late to the party, but need to piggyback here. I love RonLit! She’s the one who convinced me I needed to read Moby-Dick earlier this year.

      I don’t really read much YA myself, so thought I’d share a few booktubers I like (a couple are Man Booker vloggers):

      Fantasy & Classics:
      Jean Bookishthoughts
      Novels and Nonsense

      Literary Fiction:
      Read and Daydreams
      Climbthestacks

      If anyone knows of any booktubers who vlog about poetry, please let me know! 🙂

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  13. I thinking vlogging is becoming so big because in todays society we are people who want information and we want it now. Reading a blog takes effort and watching a book vlog doesn’t require any effort of the viewer. I write a blog but am becoming more and more interested in Book Tube and if I did start would ideal maintain both.

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  14. I do have a book tube channel, but honestly I’ve done only a handful of vlogs there. It’s such a pain to make yourself look presentable, and then the editing, and the uploading (especially if the connection is slow), that I just don’t like it very much.

    I don’t enjoy surfing book vlogs either. I don’t know, because I do surf YouTube a lot, but it’s mostly for visual stuff like DIY, tutorials, and the like.

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  15. Thank you for introducing me to Jen Campbell! I will check her videos out. Though, I am a little disappointed that the Man Booker committee would use only vloggers and not bloggers to promote themselves. As you pointed it out, these vloggers mainly read and talk about YA books, a genre that is unlikely to prominently feature on the Booker list. Secondly, with the exception of Sanne and a couple of others, there are few booktubers who do it well enough to be informative to people who are interested in reading. Sanne keeps things very up-to-date and surprisingly succinct, so that you do have an idea about the book that is more than a blurb, and less than an entire essay in the newspaper. Having said that, I myself prefer reading blogs, or reading substantial Goodreads reviews, to “satisfactorily” learn more about books I have and haven’t read. After the whole Zoella debacle, publishers should try to look beyond the glitz in the book blogging world, and focus on where readers of the Booker shortlist are likely to be found more.
    A word about the followers though. I discovered Sanne through a popular beauty vlogger who did a collaboration video with her, and within the next few days, her subscribers did go up by the tens and thousands. All youtubers do this, so some people might get the wrong impression that the subscribers who are there, are predominantly there to watch videos on books. That is less likely to happen with blogs, and the stats here are far more representative.

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    • *some of the subscribers that are there, of course, not all of them. Sanne has plenty of subscribers, including myself, who follow her videos because they are interested in books.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I suspected that there might have been some overlap in that some BookTubers don’t look much different from the beauty vloggers! I don’t think the Man Booker vloggers themselves predominantly talk about YA but a lot of BookTubers in general do. It shows that the platform is branching out a bit from that genre though which I think is a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sanne also has a beauty channel! I once watched some videos by a vlogger called, if I can remember correctly, candysomething. She had a lot of variety, and very well-balanced views. I have to look for these other vloggers then, as apart from Candy and Sanne, I’ve never found anybody whose channel interests me. You have a very interesting blog yourself! Glad to have found it!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. For me Booktubing is fun and easy to watch but it seems really hard to make, while blogs are easier because you don’t need that much editing or equipments. But both medias really depend on the person running it, and I don’t think any of them will diminish any time soon in the future.

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  17. I’m a professor, so I don’t mind talking in front of people. The problem is that when I’m on video, I have to see me and hear me (and re-hear if I watch the video again), which I don’t like. I think there is a certain element of being good looking for vlogs, so would we naturally not listen to a blogger who has a weird hair cut or is obese or doesn’t live in a house with a room that looks nice for a backdrop. The focus is on the image, not the book. The visual element, in my opinion, seems exclusionary in some ways. I would also focus on how often I repeat myself in a vlog post. I’ve noticed lately that when I talk while teaching, I keep using the word “frequently,” and then as I’m still talking/teaching, I’m thinking, “good god, how frequent can everything be??”

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  18. I just found out about BookTube today via another blog LOL! I turn to YouTube for more DIY things and reviews on beauty or techy stuff where the product is demonstrated. I never thought about looking up book reviews through there though. I live being able to read about it instead;) I think it is more “neutral” when you read what a book is about instead of having someone’s facial expressions or voice inflections steer you away from something you may have liked. But I still can see how it can be useful and helpful if you’re short on time or rather listen than read at the moment.

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  19. Crislyn M.

    I’ve tried watching a few BookTube videos, but I can safely say they aren’t my thing. I don’t like watching videos much on the internet anyway (I always HATE clicking a link thinking its an article and discovering its actually a video…) so I guess I have no intention of either vlogging in the future or even occasionally watching some… call me impatient but I rather just read a blog post.

    Interesting post though, thanks Clare!

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  20. I run only a book blog, and I don’t think I will move to or have a vlog channel because I am very bad at talking :p

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  21. Reblogged this on A Celebration of Reading and commented:
    When you are old and wrinkled with scraggly hairs cascading out of your ears and various unidentified discharges causing you to lick your lips and roll your eyes, I can’t see myself commenting on the intricacies of Asian popular literature without wearing my best Keroppi disguise. Maybe I should go back to my dark corner, brush a few alien-looking insects off my desk, and read a new transgressive novel, gurgling at the scenes with maximum bodily fluids and raw wit. Nope, nothing yclept Tube is in my future.

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  22. Gosh this got some attention!! This blog is one of my absolute favourites, please don’t starting vlogging instead. I prefer the anonymous, invisible authorial voice, especially when the posts are so informative and interesting. I am certainly not about to start vlogging, it sounds far too advanced and complicated and anyway I would not want to have to get properly dressed, made up and sitting in some interestingly intellectual-looking space. I like reading about books and I like reading books, if I want to look at them I will go to a bookshop – always and preferably the one in Primrose Hill.

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  23. Jeff

    I agree with other commenters here that reading book blogs is natural to their audience / participators who read books. I go to books and blogs to get away from TV because TV is almost entirely made up from rubbish that’s badly stuck together with goo. I have considered trying audio podcasts. I often draft my posts by talking them to an audio recorder while pacing about. But posting the recordings wouldn’t work. My talk is slow and stilted so that the speech-to-text software can do the best job possible. And my voice is almost entirely made up from rubbish that’s badly stuck together with goo.
    Text gets to the point.

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  24. So many replies but I just have to say that I’ll be staying with bloggers like yourself. When I read what you have written your words have my 100% attention and isn’t that what it’s all about I’m not wondering where you bought your earrings, or is that really the best hair style for you or I love your T-shirt. As for John Green, he speaks so fast I could hardly understand a word he was saying. Hip hip hoorah for the written word.

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    • I did find myself looking at the bookshelves vloggers were standing in front of rather than actually “watching” them on their videos… but then I love browsing people’s bookshelves! 🙂 Reading a blog post is usually quicker too whereas a lot of videos are 10+ mins which I think is a bit long for some topics.

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  25. I have a book blog, and love that it allows me to practice my writing skills. However, I find myself watching booktubers far more often than I read book blogs. It seems that booktubers have a very welcoming community aspect that I would LOVE to be a part of, but I’m not sure I have the time or skills to upload and edit videos. I think it’s a great medium, but I’m sticking to my “old fashioned” book blog for now. 😉

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    • Yes, I feel there is a community element among some bloggers but it did appear to be stronger among vloggers. I, too, will be sticking to blogging but can see how the community element is particularly appealing for people thinking about making videos instead.

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  26. I dutifully watched the 2nd Vlog in your post’ it was okay, but … the third one – way way too long ; too time-consuming. Vlogging is not for me. Book blogging definitely my choice.

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  27. What a great post!
    I love the idea of vlogging but do like the anonymity of blogging. I generally prefer reading reviews too as I can go at my own pace rather than wait for the presenter to get to what I’m interested. I generally prefer reading to audiobooks for the same reason unless the reader really draws me in. I do listen to podcasts though 🙂

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  28. Interesting to hear about a different way of blogging, and especially about the niches it has penetrated. I am not very video oriented as I am impatient! I like to skim read and you can’t skim vlo,.

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  29. The Cue Card

    I’ve seen some vlogs but didnt really know about the whole BookTube phenomenon. I guess I’m a dinosaur. I’ve watched some vlogs which seem to be entertaining but I can’t see myself branching out that way. I’d rather hide and write. LOL

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  30. I think our world can manage two mediums of book talks…the population is actually pretty much split in terms of those who are visual and other who are auditory. Some people retain more when they read and others when they listen. I will never switch to vlogging…yikes! Long live the book blog!

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  31. Great post!
    I follow a little bit of book vlogging, but not as much as it has become spiraling upwards into popularity. While there is a large expansion of book vlogging, I think I prefer reading reviews more. It’s something about sitting down and writing down your thoughts and then sharing it with others that I really love. As others have stated above, I prefer to skim pages sometimes and when watching a video, I feel like you have to watch the whole thing haha.

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  32. I recently switched from booktube to book blogging for multiple reasons. One, blogging is so much easier, while I find it harder to express myself it doesn’t mean I have to wait till I’m alone to film a video, I don’t have to edit and listen to my horrid voice over and over, and also I knew that if any of my friends or family were to find my videos I would be embarrassed by it, not because I think it’s wrong but because they wouldn’t understand.

    I agree with you, the anonymity of book blogging is comforting, and it means I most probably will never be accidentally discovered, so I can tell people in my own time. I’m finding it hard to connect with the blogging world just because I’m so used to booktubers, but hopefully with time I’ll find my place in this community.

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    • It’s interesting to hear from someone who has migrated from vlogging to blogging rather than the other way round. I hope you start to feel more connected soon – it took me quite a long time too but I hope it’s just something you will get used to gradually over time 🙂

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  33. Interesting post. The visibility of vlogging meshes, I think with celebrity culture. Blogging, on the other hand, is a boon for those attracted to it because of the combination of expression of thought and feeling without visibility. Having looked at a few vlogs, I rather nastily find myself cringing at them, too much trying too hard in front of the camera. I far prefer the less in your face, more laid back and polished world of blogs, both as consumer and as creator. I adore the anonymity of blogs, and the ability to edit edit edit till you get what you want to say almost right! Perhaps blogs are for perfectionists!

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